Deutsche Bank Management Board member Rainer Neske urges optimism!
Frankfurt am Main.
Last Friday – May 8, 2015 – 900 guests made their way to the Paulskirche in Frankfurt, where they attended this year’s graduation ceremony for students finishing their courses at Frankfurt School of Finance & Management. Rainer Neske, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Frankfurt School of Finance & Management Foundation and member of the Management Board at Deutsche Bank AG, gave the laudatory speech. Peter Feldmann, Lord Mayor of Frankfurt, also congratulated the graduates. Musical accompaniment was provided by student music society FS Music.
Full of enthusiasm and good cheer, the President of Frankfurt School, Professor Dr Udo Steffens, gave a very warm welcome to the graduates, as well as their parents, partners and friends. He confessed that he had attended many graduation ceremonies during this time in office, but as an opportunity to wish farewell to graduates, meet their parents once again, and join in celebrating their achievements, each ceremony is a very special occasion.
Lord Mayor Peter Feldmann: Frankfurt School is doing great things for the City
Professor Steffens then ceded the podium to Peter Feldmann, Lord Mayor of the City of Frankfurt, who highlighted the importance of Frankfurt School to the city – and not just as an institution for educating the talented young people needed by businesses in Frankfurt and the surrounding region. Frankfurt School plays an even more important role, explained the Lord Mayor, by tackling major challenges. Among the examples he mentioned were the business school’s involvement with the Université Protestante au Congo, and discussions held with members of the Blockupy movement. He ended by asking graduates to stay loyal to Frankfurt and use their future influence on behalf of the City.
Rainer Neske: international reputation and research skills enhance value of degrees
The laudatory speech was delivered by Rainer Neske, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Frankfurt School of Finance & Management Foundation and member of the Management Board of Deutsche Bank AG. He started by congratulating the graduates on successfully completing their degrees. He went on to review the evolution of Frankfurt School itself, highlighting the business school’s international reputation and strong research record, both of which enhance the value of degrees awarded by the institution. He thanked the parents of the new graduates for entrusting their children to Frankfurt School and supporting them throughout their degree courses – they too had every right to be proud of their children’s achievements.
“History is unpredictable and creates opportunities!”
Rainer Neske then looked at the graduation ceremony from a historical perspective. When he completed his own degree course in Karlsruhe in 1990, the Berlin Wall had just fallen, the Cold War was at an end, and German reunification had begun. It seemed the whole world had been turned upside down. “That was when we realised just how unpredictable history is. And when we also realised that precisely this unpredictability can also act as an immensely positive force.” Today’s challenges are quite different: the consequences of the financial and economic crisis, for example, and the cooling of the transatlantic relationship. Rainer Neske encouraged the new graduates to seize the resulting opportunities and tackle these new challenges. In particular, many people today feel that “our society is no longer a just one. Despite great prosperity, surveys show that as much as half of the German population is unhappy with our current economic system and demanding fundamental change,” he continued. He reminded the graduates that as future managers and leaders, they had already effectively joined a social elite that must now dedicate itself to tackling these new issues.
He went on to outline some of the opportunities graduates can look forward to in their own personal development and careers. Digitisation is calling the business models of entire industries into question as it revolutionises production processes, changes value chains, reaches deep into our lives and – last but not least – opens up new possibilities for individuals to create new values and working conditions and earn money. “I’m delighted that you’re being awarded your degree certificates today,” cried Rainer Neske as he addressed the graduates directly. “We need you!”
What executive managers need: A broad-based education, well-balanced personal life, sense of solidarity, optimism
Rainer Neske ended his speech with some personal advice. He urged the graduates to be optimistic and cultivate a healthy mistrust of prevailing trends and preconceptions – by, for example, questioning everything. They should remain brave enough to make mistakes and say “no”. He also advised them to “keep extending your own intellectual horizons! Find ways to balance your careers with other activities that fulfil you – in sport, music, literature, philosophy or art, and of course through friendships and families.” Rainer Neske expressed his conviction that good managers need to master much more than just the tools of their profession. As well as possessing a broad-based education, they must also be guided by an ethical compass. They should be capable of building – and using – bridges to other disciplines. They should also be capable of engaging in discourses ranging far beyond their own everyday lives. Indeed, the ability to spark, engage in and lead such interdisciplinary exchanges – difficult as they often are – is one of the most urgently needed skills of our time. Because only by doing so can we address the truly significant challenges of our time.
In Rainer Neske’s view, elites are important at all levels of society, because elites drive and implement change. He emphasised that the new graduates were now part of such an elite – a position that obliges them to “treat everybody else with respect and decency – quite simply, as appropriate.” Achievement, explained Neske, is also about supporting weaker individuals, feeling a sense of responsibility for them, and making sure they are involved. Belonging to an elite means acting responsibly and maintaining an awareness of people who are less well off.
Rainer Neske finished by repeating his congratulations and emphasising once again that great prospects are now open to the newly graduated students. He asked the graduates and their parents to stay in touch with Frankfurt School, which thrives on its ongoing relationships with all those who have already earned their Bachelor or Master degrees.
Following the address, Professor Dr Udo Steffens presented the sponsorship awards made by the Interessengemeinschaft Frankfurter Kreditinstitute (IFK) – an interest group of Frankfurt-based banks – to the year’s top-scoring graduates, all of whom had studied for Bachelor degrees in Management, Philosophy & Economics. He presented the awards on behalf of Dr Jürgen Ziebe, Managing Director of Bankenverband Hessen, e.V., who was unable to attend the ceremony.
Together with Professor Dr Michael Grote, Vice President Academic Affairs, Frankfurt School President Professor Dr Steffens then presented the new graduates with their degree certificates.
Guests from Kinshasa
Graduates of the Executive MBA course at CAEBS (the Central Africa Europe Business School) were given an especially warm welcome. The business school in Kinshasa is run as a joint venture between Frankfurt School and the Université Protestante au Congo (UPC), Frankfurt School’s partner university in the Congolese capital.
With considerable emotion, Professor Dr Patrick Bakengela Shamba, Professor of HR Management and Strategy at UPC and Director of CAEBS, described the enormous significance of the EMBA for CAEBS students. He outlined the immense difficulties besetting his country and underlined the importance of education for personal, social and economic development.
André Schultz completed a doctoral thesis entitled “Essays on the Political Economy of Federalism in Autocracies”; both doctoral candidate and the subject of his thesis were introduced to guests by his supervisor, Professor Dr Hartmut Kliemt, Professor of Philosophy and Economics.
Frankfurt School Vice President and Managing Director Ingolf Jungmann then presented the three Professor Dr Karl-Friedrich Hagenmüller Prizes, which are awarded annually to the top-scoring students on Frankfurt School’s continuing education programmes by the Foundation created by Frankfurt School’s original founder, Professor Dr Karl-Friedrich Hagenmüller. This year’s prizes went to Stefan Dietchen, top student on the Management programme, and Theresa Hannapel and Kevin Mauer, the two top-scoring students on the Bank Administrator course.
Finally, two graduates – Lisa Bleitner, awarded an MBA in International Healthcare Management, and Paul Roman Bose, who earned a Bachelor degree in Management, Philosophy & Economics – reviewed the highs and lows of their degree courses and thanked the entire Frankfurt School team for their support and guidance.
The graduation ceremony concluded with a reception in the Paulskirche foyer.